Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dr. Branch Offers his First Community Update

Wow! What a community we have in Oconee County! As you read this column, I will be completing my first week in support of the students, teachers, and administrators that make up our outstanding school system. It has been, and continues to be, an exciting time for me and my family both personally and professionally. The amount of support, well wishes, and warm greetings that we have received has been overwhelming and has only reaffirmed what my wife, Catherine, and I already knew—Oconee County is the place we want to raise our daughter, Abigail, and call home for many years to come.

In the weeks, months, and years ahead you will hear us talk in great detail and constant enthusiasm about Continuous Improvement and Sustained Excellence. It is my sincere belief that all great organizations are constantly reflecting on how to get better, become more efficient, and have a larger impact on the customers they serve. One of my educational mentors is fond of saying that the largest room in the world is the room for improvement. While our schools are achieving at a high rate, being recognized at the local, state, and national levels for our athletic and academic achievements, the leaders of our system see even greater potential in the students that walk their halls. It is my pledge to our students that we will work tirelessly to tap into that potential and assist in helping them achieve their goals, aspirations, and dreams for the future.

The community that exists here is rich in tradition, but open to new ideas, which makes for a great learning environment for young people. Supportive parents, a board of education that puts student achievement at the forefront of all decisions, and a community that values education and the life-changing impact it can bring are a recipe for great success. I count it as an honor and privilege to serve as superintendent of Oconee County Schools and to be a small part of that team.

Let me know what you think. Communication is only effective if it is two-way. Thus, each week, my column will not only serve to update you on the happenings of our school system, but also provide a question to ponder. This week, I would like to provide three. These three questions have served as the basis for my individual conversation with our school leaders over the past several months. The dialogue we have shared is the first step in sustaining the excellence that already exists while working toward the continuous improvement that is our goal.

  1. What are we doing well?
  2. What can we improve on?
  3. How can you help?

If you would like to provide input on these simple but compelling questions, please email me at I look forward to your responses, serving our schools and community, and meeting your children in the days ahead.